Virginia shellfish farmers sold $56.6 million in clams and oysters in 2016, with hard clam sales of $38.1 million and $18.5 million in oyster sales. Hard-clam production once again leads the nation and oyster production is tops among East Coast states.
The values are according to the 11th annual Virginia Shellfish Aquaculture Situation and Outlook Report, a survey of shellfish farmers in the state conducted by the Marine Advisory Services program at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.
The survey and report provide an annual assessment of trends and projections for Virginia’s shellfish aquaculture industry. The latest report is based on an industry survey completed during the first quarter of 2017.
Report author Karen Hudson says, “The story this year is that everything looks good. The markets remain strong and prices are up. There is no sign of market saturation with Virginia products.”
Virginia growers reported an average price of $0.41 per oyster in 2016; the same as the previous year and significantly above the 10-year average of $0.33 per oyster. Oyster hatcheries also reported a sales increase, for both single seed (up 22%) and eyed larvae (up 12%). The average price of eyed larvae has increased for the past 4 years, and in 2016 increased 4% to $326 per million.
“VIMS and our partners have put a lot of effort into supporting the heart of this industry—the hatcheries,” says Hudson. “They produce the product, so we support them by refining tools to better monitor and evaluate water quality to ensure healthy shellfish.” Partners include Virginia Sea Grant, Virginia Tech, and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.
Virginia growers did report a 22% decrease from the previous year in single oysters planted—from 135.6 million to 106.3 million—but predict an 11% increase in oysters planted for 2017, to 118 million.